Chances are you’ve heard of at least one person who suffers from a condition called sleep apnea. You may even know this person, or be related to them. Perhaps you sleep next to someone with sleep apnea or you suffer from it yourself. This sleep disorder is common, after all. In fact, it’s estimated that about 18 million Americans suffer from some form of sleep apnea. The majority of these are men, as they make for nearly twice as many cases of sleep apnea as women do.
But what is sleep apnea, exactly? And what are the risks associated with the disorder? This article will answer these questions, as well as give some information on sleep apnea products that are used to treat the disorder and provide therapy for those suffering from it.
What is Sleep Apnea?
This sleep disorder results from an interruption in a person’s breathing while they sleep. The most common cause for this breathing interruption has to do with obesity. An obese person is more likely to have their airways blocked by their tongue or soft tissue inside the mouth and throat. This type of sleep apnea in which there is a physical airway blockage is known as obstructive sleep apnea.
The other kind of sleep apnea is called central sleep apnea. Rather than being caused by a physical obstruction, central sleep apnea results from an error in the central nervous system. The brain fails to send the right message to the person’s breathing muscles, resulting in a lack of breath during sleep. Central sleep apnea is typically caused by some sort of issue with the brain or brainstem, such as stroke or infection.
Effects of Sleep Apnea
While cases of sleep apnea can range from mild to severe, any case can become worse and result in serious damage. For instance, those who do not seek treatment for their sleep apnea are three times more likely to suffer from heart disease and four times more likely to have a stroke. There are about 38,000 deaths each year resulting from cardiovascular illness that can be attributed to untreated sleep apnea. The most common effects of sleep apnea include high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, stroke, irritability, and headaches due to sleep deprivation.
Sleep Apnea Products
Fortunately, a lot of research has been done over the past several decades relating to sleep apnea. This research has culminated in a variety of effective sleep apnea products that provide comfort, relief, and treatment to those suffering from the disorder. The two most common sleep apnea products are CPAP machines and BiPAP machines. Here’s a brief rundown of both products.
CPAP is an acronym for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. In layman’s terms, a CPAP machine continually boosts the level of air pressure in one’s throat a consistent amount to prevent the airway from collapsing during sleep. These machines come in a few different forms. There are CPAP masks that cover both one’s nose and mouth, masks that only over the nose, and prongs that are inserted into one’s nostrils. For the most part, CPAP machines have proven quite effective for treating sleep apnea, and are a great alternative to surgery and other invasive methods of treatment.
BiPAP (BPAP) Machines
BiPAP or BPAP stands for Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure. These machines are similar in many ways to CPAP machines, with one main difference. This difference (as the single-word difference implies) is that BiPAP machines provide more than just one level of air pressure. For some people, it can become difficult to breathe against the singular air pressure given off by a CPAP machine. BiPAP machines eliminate this issue by providing two air pressure levels: one for inhaling and another for exhaling. These settings can be changed to better fit the needs of the patient.
Sleep apnea is fairly common, especially among men, and it can be incredibly dangerous if not treated. This is why it’s a good idea to look into CPAP, BiPAP, and other options for sleep apnea treatment. These machines may look and sound funny, but they have the power to save lives. And those who’s suffer from sleep apnea can dream easier with their help.
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